The St. Olaf College campus was packed with parents, relatives, teammates, coaches and, most importantly, the runners as the state cross country meet took place in Northfield, Minnesota.
The Woodbury and Cottage Grove area had representation from three different schools and all of them finished with learning opportunities for the offseason and the 2019 season.
"It was so much fun running with the best runners in the state," said Woodbury's Anna Muellner. "The nerves were less than the section meet because you knew you were here and all you can do is run your best."
The three schools consisted of East Ridge, Woodbury and Math and Science Academy. Here's how each team ended up at the state meet on Saturday.
The Raptors had representation from both boys and girls at the state meet. On the boys side, the entire team made it to state and took this meet as a learning opportunity to the upcoming years.
The boys finished 13th out of 16 teams, but five of the runners finished in the top 80 at state, which showed tremendous improvement from the beginning of the season to the end.
"It was so much fun to come here as a team and compete together," said Joe Reimann. "We've worked really hard to get to this point and now that we are here, we're just going to enjoy every moment."
Some of the top finishers for the boys team include Reimann who finished 26th overall with a time of 16:18.30 along with John Faller who finished 46th overall with a time of 16:33.60.
Joining the boys at state were two individual runners for the girls from East Ridge as Halle Mestery and Gwyneth Gerlach competed on Saturday morning. The two were excited to race together on the course because they knew they had support from each other throughout the entire race.
Mestery finished 45th overall for individuals as she ran a time of 18:55.60. Gerlach finished 112th overall with a time of 19:48.70. The two of them enjoyed their time on the course and will hopefully come back next year with the whole team of East Ridge.
"It was a great experience to be a part of today," Gerlach said. "We just hope to be back next year along with the entire girls team as well."
Junior Aidan Browne was the lone Royal to compete in the boys state meet on Saturday, but he was happy to represent Woodbury throughout the day.
He said the course was great until the hill at the 4K mark and he had to push his way up the hill and to the finish line. Browne still finished 71st overall with a time of 16:29.60.
"It was really fun to be a part of this day and race against the best runners in the state," Browne said. "I'm just hoping to take what I learned today and incorporate it into next season."
Woodbury had representation from the girls side too as Tiffany Holiday and Anna Muellner competed for the Royals. Holiday had experienced this race before as she was at state last year, but Muellner was experiencing this for the first time.
Holiday finished 99th overall with a time of 19:41.20, while Muellner finished 115th overall with a time of 19:50.60.
For the two of them, it was a learning experience to bring with them for next season. They were both fortunate to make it to the state meet and they want to share those experiences with the team for the 2019 season.
"With how my summer started this year with injuries, I'm so fortunate to be here and running at state," Holiday said. "It was so much fun to have Anna by my side for the day and both of us ran really well today."
Math and Science Academy
The Dragons from Math and Science Academy had representation from both girls and boys as well.
Harris Anderson started it off for the Dragons in the boys race. For him, he was happy to be at the state meet after dealing with a quad and knee injury for an entire month in October.
Anderson's goal for the state meet was to finish in the top 10, but he just missed it finishing 20th overall with a time of 16:33.10. He was still happy with his result after everything he faced this season.
"This was the first time I had to deal with an injury for a long period of time," Anderson said. "I'm happy that I was able to make it to state this season with everything I faced and hopefully I can learn from this for the upcoming season."
As for the girls, the Dragons had two runners with Greta Hansen and two-time defending champion Tierney Wolfgram.
Hansen finished the race tied for 28th overall with a time of 20:05.50. Unfortunately, Wolfgram did not finish the race.
According to league officials at the finish line, Wolfgram pulled herself out of the race around the one-mile mark due to an injury. She did not return to the race.
The state meet always conclude the high school season of cross country, but many of these runners will compete in races across the country throughout the offseason. The majority of these runners from the three schools will be returning for at least one more season in 2019, so the future looks bright for Woodbury, East Ridge and Math and Science Academy.
East Ridge boys
Team: Finished 13 out of 16 teams with 268 points
Joe Reimann - 16:18.30
John Faller - 16:33.60
Michael Kenney - 16:48.60
Zach Getting - 16:55.40
Sean McNiesh - 17:05.80
Dan Koland - 17:31.40
Eric Gramer - 17:42.60
East Ridge girls
Halle Mestery - 18:55.60
Gwyneth Gerlach 19:48.70
Aidan Browne - 16:29.60
Tiffany Holiday - 19:41.20
Anna Muellner - 19:50.60
Math and Science Academy boys
Harris Anderson - 16:33.10
Math and Science Academy girls
Greta Hansen - 20:05.50
Tierney Wolfgram - Did not finish race